Today's blog is for those who are struggling to stay positive, for those who are tired and losing the enthusiasm they might have had last week when we were all focused on making the best of things. As a therapist I sit with people all day, and honestly all we are talking about is how COVID-19 is effecting our lives. This week I am noticing a trend with those who are feeling defeated, overwhelmed, or just tired. As with anything in life we are progressing through some stages, it started with disbelief, then we all moved to strategic planning and problem solving to address the issue at hand. Those who can work from home have adjusted to the new normal, and parents are balancing the work-life balance in a whole new way. I am so inspired by my clients' families, all the virtual game nights, a new focus on being intentional with our time and honing in on life skills that have been ignored due to the hecticness of American life. In fact, many of us are reflecting on the good that has come from this tragic situation. As a society we have taken collective sigh of relief that we don't have to do all the things anymore. I'm hearing from adolescents to adults that many are feeling more grounded, more peaceful and a sense of personal fulfillment to have limited options of how time can be spent. In truth, psychologically we prefer to have fewer choices rather than many, too many options can be overwhelming and cause self doubt for example. So the gift of this time in some ways is to just focus on the essence of our personal worlds, investing in the relationships most important to us, and working on spending time in self-reflection and self-improvement.
All that to be said, the exhaustion and the hopelessness we might experience at times is real. It is a normative human experience to have seemingly opposing emotions at the same time. You can be grateful and also defeated, you can feel encouraged and hopeless. One does not cancel out the other. I want to give anyone feeling discouraged permission to just experience that and know you are not alone. There is no manual for what we are experiencing, no one has trained for this, we are in solidarity together figuring this all out day to day, and we will continue to do so as the weeks unfold.
In times of such uncertainty, the best anecdote is to press pause when possible and take a moment to ask ourselves what it is we need at that moment. Recognize the need for control you might be experiencing and find a project that could give you that sense, organizing a space in your home or organizing a effort to provide support in your community can provide that. Self-care is of utmost importance in times like this. Our nervous systems are being hit hard with legitimate concerns about the uncertainty of what is happening and will continue to occur due to this pandemic. Making an effort to proactively engage in self-soothing or distracting activities will help reset our mindset so that we are better able to minimize the negative emotional effects we are experiencing. Don't discount the benefits of eating well, getting a form of exercise, getting lost in a book or connecting with a friend. Most of all give yourself grace and resist having expectations that you need to be some sort of emotional super hero, it's ok to break down, to cry, to grieve expectations that won't be filled. You can do that and still rise above, overcome and find new capabilities within yourself. We are just beginning a journey in all of our lives that will have a huge impact on us emotionally. Be easy on yourself, resist the tendency to judge how "well" you are handling it and take time to recharge.